Who's keeping the count, I say??


My current fixation with the English language and its ever astonishing vocabulary continues to amaze me. This time, thankfully not due to Mr. Tharoor (I'm getting a grip on myself now after reading Sawan's comment in the previous post :D).

I was reading MANORAMA YEARBOOK (2009 edition) today. One of the pages had this footer titled "A New Word Every 98 minutes". On reading it further, I found out that the English language was set to reach its 1 Millionth word by April 2009 (which just went by). Apparently, a new English word is created every 98 minutes and as at the time of printing the compilation (MANORAMA YEARBOOK) in late 2008, the word count stood at 995,844.

I decided to google and try to get behind this story and enlighten myself a little bit. 

So who exactly is keeping the count?? The answer is: A company called The Global Language Monitor based in Austin, Texas which keeps an eye on the use of languages, English primarily,  and monitors frequent changes to the same. I mean seriously, that's an actual company and that's an actual job!!!

But how can one be so certain that English doesn't already have a million words? After I read Mr. Tharoor, I wondered how many million words in English am I not aware of? And what exactly is the yardstick for constituting a "word"? 

There are several dictionaries available in the market: Oxford, Merriam Websters etc. The Unabridged versions of these put the tally of words anywhere between 450,000 to 650,000. Both of them contain certain disputable terms. For instance: "OK" or "ain't". I remember I had used "ain't" while writing an essay in class 11 English paper and was promptly summoned by my English teacher: "You're writing English, not "Smriti's English"."

A lot of controversy surrounds this claim as many English words are often derived from other languages, and hence there is noise in a few quarters about the genuiness of these words. Some people have also claimed that English might have already passed that figure.

Whatever might be the case, my knowledge of words in English language stands at a few thousand perhaps. Meanwhile, The Global Language Monitor website has installed a countdown anticipating the 1 Millionth Word to be inducted into the English Language on June 10th, 2009 at 10.22 AM.

So much fuss. I'm not complaining. I can't. I found something to blog about.

Oh, if you want to know, the words competiting for that prestigious 1 Millionth Spot are: 
DEFOLLOW
DEFRIEND
NOOB

Apparently, the odds highly favour "NOOB" and it might just become word number 1 Million. I just hope there isn't an Anil Kapoor Clone around shouting out the 1 Millionth word followed by "Millllionaaare". I've had enough of the word "Million" for this lifetime at least.

And IF I had it my way, I'd let the 1 Millionth Word be "Baaaaaaaaah"!!!

9 Observations:

  1. abhishek said...:

    I thought NOOB was already a word.

  1. wow! that was some unique information.. cool..

  1. seeing bengali on top also excites me...

    but wat a post on english...aaj rani tumpar bahut khush hogi :P

  1. yamini meduri said...:

    Nice and informative post on English dear...!!!

    i happend to face a similar situation abt the word "aint" in my 12th...

    then my english teacher yelled at me seeing that word...but in my Gard, my other english teacher Taught the class abt the new word( none in the class knew it before..though i knoew i was quiet :) ...)

    heheheh...

    you post is so unique dear...nicely done..!!!

  1. The Geekie said...:

    gud research gal...keep us informed in this way :)

  1. Sam said...:

    off the league post smritz. we never think who comes up with a word and its meaning. ur post puts me in that thinking mode again.

    i mean who discovered all this words and who translated them to aall the different languages of the world.

    for example dahi is curd in English. Dahi is dahi in Hindi and Marathi. but who decides what will it be called in say Telugu or Kashmiri or even Malyalam ?

    And if you say Dimag ka dahi in english it would mean

    ahh my brain / mind was curded....

    hahaha

  1. Reflections said...:

    I hope they go with defollow....noob almost sounds like boob;-S

    ;-D

  1. sawan said...:

    some one is obsessed with the language :)

  1. Shalom said...:

    Loved this post!!! I too believe, that English would've already crossed the million mark. On the subject of "genuineness" of the word, well, everything derives from something else....the point of any language is communication; as long as people understand each other clearly, what does the rest of it matter?

    Btw, I was totally delighted by "Noob" (huge grin on my face right now)....I think it sounds unbelievably cute :D. I will Google it (just hope it doesn't have some bakwaas meaning). If people are going to make a fuss over the supposed millionth word, I hope Noob wins....sounds better than the others anyway :)

 
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